Compendium of Budget Accounts

Fiscal Year 2000 Gao ID: AIMD-99-124 April 1, 1999

Each year, the President is required by law to submit a budget to Congress. The President's budget analyzes and compiles separate presentations for hundreds of budget accounts, covering all fiscal activities of the federal government, including "off-budget" accounts such as the Social Security trust funds and the Postal Service funds. It also includes accounts, such as the legislative and judicial branch summaries, that, by law or by practice, are not subject to presidential review. The budget contains a wealth of information in a daunting array of schedules, tables, graphs, and narrative summaries. The comprehensiveness of the President's budget is both its principal strength and its most obvious inconvenience; the President's budget for fiscal year 2000 spans five volumes totaling more than 2,600 pages. This publication gives readers a convenient way to sort through the fiscal structure of the federal government and to determine the level of budgetary resources--used, estimated, or requested by fiscal year--for individual accounts.

GAO noted that: (1) this compendium follows the same organizational pattern used in the budget of the United States government, FY 2000 appendix; (2) account summaries for the legislative and judicial branches precede listings for the executive branch, which is organized alphabetically by major department and agency, followed by other independent agencies; (3) individual accounts are then grouped by major subordinate organization--usually a bureau, service, or administration--or by major program area; (4) for each account, GAO reported gross obligations in millions of nominal dollars; gross obligations reflect a financial estimate of orders placed, contracts awarded, services received, and other similar transactions during the fiscal year; (5) GAO selected gross obligations as the display criterion because it best describes the relative size of each budget account, expressed in terms of financial commitments made within a given fiscal year, without regard to the type of underlying budgetary resource or when resulting outlays may occur; (6) in addition to the account title and budgetary data by fiscal year, GAO has appended two additional codes to each account to enhance utility; (7) to provide perspective on mission or purpose, each account includes a code reflecting the budget function or subfunction most directly associated with the transactions financed by that account; a general description of each function is provided in appendix I and a summary of gross obligations by subfunction is provided at the beginning of the account listing for each major department and agency; (8) GAO has coded each account by the cognizant congressional appropriations subcommittee to clarify the locus of congressional oversight for the specific budget account; (9) appendix II summarizes the cognizant congressional committee codes used in this document; and (10) the general designation authorizing committee is used, either singularly or in combination with an appropriations subcommittee designation, for those accounts whose spending authority is provided, in whole or in part, in laws other than appropriations acts.

The Justia Government Accountability Office site republishes public reports retrieved from the U.S. GAO These reports should not be considered official, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Justia.